Writing an interview recruitment post: a line-by-line breakdown

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Deploy Empathy
Deploy Empathy
I was looking at the manuscript of my book the other day making some minor formatting tweaks a few people had suggested (thank you! you know who you are).
As I read over the section on recruiting people from Facebook groups, it occurred to me that I didn’t break down exactly why I chose the language I did in the sample post.
So let’s do that now!
I want to stress that this exact wording is not the one end-all-be-all way to recruit users for interviews. Instead, I hope that you can grab the general principles I’ve used (and maybe contribute some of your own!). If you have copy that you’ve found to be particularly successful, I’d love it if you sent it my way.
Here’s the full post. We’ll go through it line-by-line.
Have you bought a car recently? I’d like to build something that makes this easier, and I’m hoping to understand how people make decisions about buying a new car. I’m looking to talk to people who’ve bought a car (new or used) in the past month. If that’s you and you’d be up for a half hour call about this, please message me. I’m looking to talk to 10 people and will give all participants a $15 Amazon gift card.
Have you bought a car recently?
You want people who have experienced the problem recently, and you want this for two reasons: first, so their memory is fresh, and second, as a way of checking that the problem you’re solving is a relatively frequent problem. If you’re building an invoicing app, you want to talk to someone who has sent an invoice recently (not ever in their life, but in the last week). And if you’re thinking of selling in-person square dancing lessons to Dutch speakers in rural Alaska and can’t find anyone who’s willing to talk to you, that’s a sign that the market may be a bit small to support a business.
I’d like to build something that makes this easier, and I’m hoping to understand how people make decisions about buying a new car.
Tell people why you’re posting this. They probably don’t know you, so you need to build trust and come off as harmless as possible. But don’t give too much away that might bias their responses. Don’t tell them you’re building a mobile app or any other details beyond the general sketch of the problem.
I’m looking to talk to people who’ve bought a car (new or used) in the past month.
This is your screening question, where you narrow down the broader list of people who’ve “recently” bought a car (subjective) to a specific timeframe. You want people with a fresh memory of the process who actually did the action you’re interested in.
It’s important to note that this post isn’t targeting people who are thinking about buying a car; people are bad at predicting the future and data that comes from future predictions is usually bad, so don’t ask them to do that.
This is inspired by how health researchers evaluate patient adherence to treatment routines. When they ask people “What do you usually eat?” they get answers that are a bit more optimistic than people’s actual daily diets. Instead, they ask questions like “what did you eat yesterday?” “What did you eat last Wednesday?” for more accurate self-reported data.
If that’s you and you’d be up for a half hour call about this, please message me.
Reiterate in a nice way who you’re looking to talk to, make the ask clear, and tell them what to do if they’re a fit.
In many ways, this is inspired by the classic Don’t Make Me Think: tell me what’s going to happen to me before it happens, tell me what’s happening as it happens, tell me what happened.
I’m looking to talk to 10 people and will give all participants a $15 Amazon gift card.
Adding a specific number makes people feel like they need to participate in order for people to participate. As Robert Cialdini explains in Influence, the bystander effect is real, and people need to feel that not only does someone need to help, but they need to help.
You may remember a few months ago when I sent an ask out to this newsletter to interview 50 people who had been reading. I didn’t actually expect to get 50, but by setting such a high number, it encouraged people who may have otherwise sat on the sidelines to throw their hats into the ring. I ended up talking to 32 people and it was by far my favorite part of this whole writing process.
Lastly, include the incentive, if you’re including one. It’s not always necessary, but can be helpful, especially in low-trust situations. A $5-25 gift card will usually do the trick. As Cialdini shared in Influence, elevating someone else into the role of teacher can sometimes be enough of an incentive on its own. Someone may not be an expert in buying used cars, but they are certainly an expert in their own experience of buying a car, and that’s what you’re looking to learn. So elevate them.

One last thing: please write a review!
Huge, huge thanks to everyone who has bought the book so far. This never would have become a book without all of your questions, comments, ideas, and feedback along the way, and I’m so grateful for that. As a first-time author whose blog posts landed with a soft thud before this, I’m still genuinely amazed that people who’ve never met me would buy something I wrote. It just blows me away.
I’ve also really enjoyed writing this newsletter, and plan to continue it even though the book is done.
If you bought the book, would you write a review?
I’m gearing up for a broader launch in the next few weeks, and reviews are tremendously helpful in building legitimacy with people who haven’t been following along like you have. I would like to get up to 15 reviews (currently at 8) before exposing the book to the wilds of Product Hunt and IndieHackers.
Also, please keep sharing your pictures of the book as they arrive! It is so delightful to open up Twitter and see another book photo. Copies have been spotted in Germany, Washington DC, Staffordshire, Abu Dhabi, Alfriston, Ghent, Boston, Virginia, Pittsburgh, London, Tokyo, Philly, and more!
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Deploy Empathy
Deploy Empathy @mjwhansen

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